Title: Who Knows?
Date Read: 23 July 2009
Available Online?: YES – Part 1 and Part 2 .
Briefly: Returning from a night out the narrator bears witness to the sight of his furniture, now suddenly and inexplicably animated, escaping down his garden path. Unable to comprehend what he has just seen the narrator blames his now empty house on burglars, and on the advice of his doctors he sets off on a period of European travel.
Afterthoughts: As this was the last story reputably penned by Maupassant I was expecting it to be one of the most manic and bizarre things I’ve ever read (given that not long after he was committed to a mental asylum). Bizarre the story certainly is, but it is also very well constructed. Certainly Maupassant is obsessed with hallucination, nervous breakdown and mental asylums (a portent of things to come?), but his superior skill in story-telling is still clearly evident, and still of the highest calibre.
Notable Quote: “Oh! what a sensation! I slunk back into a clump of bushes where I remained crouched up, watching, meanwhile, my furniture defile past–for everything walked away, the one behind the other, briskly or slowly, according to its weight or size. My piano, my grand piano, bounded past with the gallop of a horse and a murmur of music in its sides; the smaller articles slid along the gravel like snails, my brushes, crystal, cups and saucers, which glistened in the moonlight. I saw my writing desk appear, a rare curiosity of the last century, which contained all the letters I had ever received, all the history of my heart, an old history from which I have suffered so much! Besides, there were inside of it a great many cherished photographs.”
*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.